LOCAL 372 GHOST WRITER OP-ED
KARACHI YELNA

Discipline has been our only Award

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Question: Did the Long Beach Fire Department ever have an awards ceremony to honor the great work done by the men and women of the LBFD? Depending on when you became a firefighter in the LBFD you will answer either yes or no. The LBFD used to have an awards ceremony, just like the LBPD currently has, however, if memory serves me correct, Fire Chief Dave Ellis eliminated the awards ceremony because “it costs too much.”

The reason I am bringing up this topic is because I have heard for several years that the LBFD was looking to bring back the awards ceremony. Most recently I have heard that Fire Chief Espino and his team are working on bringing the awards ceremony back. Now to be clear, this is something I have heard only at the kitchen table and have never had the opportunity to speak with any of the command staff members directly. However, if this is true, I really do hope that they bring back the awards ceremony ASAP, what Fire Chief Ellis killed years ago.

I am sure Fire Chief DuRee paid lip service to bringing the awards ceremony back, however, like most things dealing with DuRee it was just lip service. However, I do believe Fire Chief Espino and his team are doers and if they are truly working to bring back the awards ceremony they will find a way to make it happen. Our people deserve to be recognized for all the tremendous work they do on a daily basis. The only thing currently the LBFD recognizes its employees for is disciplining them at headquarters or pinning a promotion badge on them. Wait, I guess they also recognize us for not having reports in on time, not responding to policy tracker on time… choose whatever negative reinforcement you want.

The point is over the years we have been without an awards ceremony, 99.9% of interaction with the LBFD is for negative reinforcement. It’s time we change this mentality and I pray that the idea of bringing back the awards ceremony is true. The department needs to break this stigma that has grown since the awards ceremony was killed. Further, if the department isn’t willing to bring back the awards ceremony I would suggest that the Union step in and bring the awards ceremony back. Our people deserve to be recognized for the great things we do, especially for a department our size in a city of our size, it is unbelievable to me that we have been without an awards ceremony.

I do hope that this article spurs some conversations regarding the awards ceremony and if it proves true that LBFD is currently considering bringing back, GREAT! If there are no plans in progress to bring it back, I hope this article spurs the conversation to bring back the awards ceremony.